FIRST-PERSON: We must sharpen our focus

Charles Martin published the book “What If It’s True” in 2019. Martin is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of fiction novels, but “What If It’s True” is a non-fiction work where the storyteller revisits the life and ministry of Jesus and connects it to real-life experiences. The motivation behind Martin’s book was the question reflected in the title that he kept asking himself as he spent time in the Scriptures: What if it’s true?

“What if every single word of this story is absolutely true and I can trust it? What if Jesus really is who He says He is? What if the King of the universe is speaking directly to me through the words of His book? What if what He says is more true than my circumstances? Than what my eyes see and my ears hear?”

Well, it is true — every bit of it. And our lives should be dramatically affected by the truth of God’s Word. The challenge is that we are constantly bombarded by voices competing for our attention. This includes voices that challenge the veracity of God’s Word, voices that over-accentuate certain statements in the Bible and downplay critical verses. If we are not careful, we will allow those other voices to determine what we believe and how we act. These voices will control us by consuming us.

I see this happening in the church as the people of God are being manipulated by different voices. We are controlled by the news media as we spend more time hearing what pundits say about the state of our world than what God says in His Word. We are lured into debates through social media and digital communication. We are encouraged to choose sides on every issue and enlisted in crusades where people are demonized, and every small matter of difference is inflated to a matter of primary importance.

I believe it is choking off the effectiveness of our churches to reach people with the Gospel and unite together in opportunities for ministry. The body of Christ is warring with itself over hot-button matters rather than sharing Jesus with the lost, equipping the saints for ministry, and fulfilling the Great Commission. And it couldn’t be happening at a worse time — believers are fiddling while the world is on fire.

There is an alternative. What if there was a groundswell of faithful followers of Jesus who were committed to sharpen our focus by regularly consuming God’s Word through personal and corporate Bible study? What if the voices of this world, the voices of division and petty politics were drowned out by the voice of Scripture washing our minds with the righteousness of God and anchoring us in the truth of His Word?

It would be easy to reflect on these questions by thinking about what’s wrong with the world rather than what’s wrong with me. We are always tempted to be more concerned with what they are doing rather than what we are doing. South Carolina Baptists, the only thing we can directly influence is ourselves. We have a mandate from our Lord to go and make disciples of all nations. Till All Have Heard, we must sharpen our focus by elevating Scripture in our personal lives and in the corporate work of our churches. Too much is at stake. May we give God the final say in our personal lives, our churches, and our cooperative work.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Wes Church is senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Columbia, S.C., and president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.)

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